Project Description: Despite >100 years of drinking water disinfection, the environmental engineering â€˜toolboxâ€™ contains only six commonly used chemical disinfectants, which are also often used for oxidation of trace organic contaminants. Among the dozens of oxidants employed by chemists, most are unsuitable for drinking water treatment, due to their cost or toxicity. However, one promising option could be the application of Group 10 metal (e.g., Pt, Pd) catalysts to oxidize molecules while using dissolved oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor. Oxidation of alcohols to aldehydes and oxygenation of alkanes have all be demonstrated under mild conditions (room temperature water) with Pt and/or Pd on the surface of solid supporters. Dissolved oxygen is typically present in surface waters near its solubility (8 mg/L), which is approximately five to ten times higher than the molar concentration of chlorine typically used for water disinfection. This research aims to identify new, safe, and sustainable oxidation technologies, informed by an organic chemistry perspective. The student on this project would specifically be assisting a PhD student in performing experiments on oxidation of trace aldehydes (e.g., acetaldehyde) in recycled wastewater. Day-to-day tasks would involve setting up batch reactor and column experiments, and doing analytical chemistry (e.g., HPLC, GC/MS) to measure the concentrations of reactants, intermediates, and products
Related Background: Organic chemistry and any additional laboratory experience is helpful.
Prerequisites: Year of general chemistry